The Role of Local Government

Last Friday, Jim Taylor, in a comment on the issue of Political Parties in Nanaimo, raised a very fundamental question which demands an answer, or answers, prior to any final discussion of Parties or Candidates. The question was this: “Can anyone here define what they believe the role of local government should be limited to?”

It seems a simple question, but if one thinks about it for a moment it is not simple at all. In fact it gets at the heart of the issues with which this blog is concerned. It strikes me that there are at least two direct methods of attack on the problem.

One is to examine first principles, i.e. to try to determine why we have any municipal government at all. Aren’t provincial and national governments enough? In Nanaimo this seems to have come from the head man of the Hudson’s Bay Company and developed from there. Perhaps some of our local history buffs can fill in the blanks.

The other is to take a look at what we have in our municipal organization and budget and to ask whether each element found there belongs there. Questions here surround what kinds of activities are proper for a municipal government. Should we, for example, be building Conference Centres, Multiplexes or other edifices which have traditionally been funded by private means?

Can we find a mutually agreed mean? What do you think?

Ron Bolin